Nightmare of a Night

December 20, 2011
Christian, often referred to as Chris, and I had been good friends for a couple years when it happened. He was always a good guy; he was about 5’10”, a couple inches smaller than I, had red hair, a skinny yet muscular build, he always kept up with trends, and was mostly liked by all. It was mid-winter and we were both kind of bored. We had lived up in North Dakota for most of our lives so we were used to the bitter coldness and feet upon feet of snow. We knew that we could always have fun by going out on a snowmobile ride, so we decided that would be what we would do that cold, dark, mysterious winter night. Some clouds were rolling in and there was a slight breeze as we put on our riding gear. We both put on our long-johns, jeans, shirts, sweat-shirts, snowmobiling jackets, boots, and helmets. Never did we think that that could possibly one of our last times going through that door.

We stepped out and the wind and air was cold on our bare skin. We quickly put on our gloves and started our snowmobiles. We took our usual route around town and made a quick stop off at the local gas station. We went in and the white-haired clerk said, “There’s a storm a comin’, I wouldn’t go out there if I were you two young boys.”
I said to Chris, “Ha yeah right what does he know!”
Christian and I didn’t think much of it because we were always warned by adults about things like this. So we bought some Gatorade, Jack Links, Hand-Warmers, shoved ‘em our bags and we were on our way. We started our snowmobiles and I went over a checklist in my head of things we would need just in case. We had everything except a couple extra spark plugs.

I had Christian run back in and check if they had some BR9ES spark plugs but the old man said, “just sold out sorry youngen.” Christian came back out and relayed the news to me. The excitement to get out and ride just brushed that off.

Both of us got on our sleds, revved the engines, and we were off. We were out in the open feeling free like we couldn’t be touched. Often we’d stop just to check oil, gas, and make sure we were both doing ok. The weather slowly but surely started to get worse and worse until all you could see was the edge of the trail and the tail light ahead of you. The wind was blowing so ferociously that it looked as if the trees would break off from the pressure.

There were these small little heated warming houses alongside the trail so finally the weather got bad enough that it forced us to pull over and rush into one. As we got I said to Christian,” Wow I’m actually pretty sweaty from that short little ride.”

He said, “Jeez now that you mention I’m about soaked with sweat!” He pulled his phone out only to see a “NO SIGNAL” sign. He said, “Dang my phone doesn’t work; check yours dude it’s pretty bad out there.”

We hopped off and the snow and wind combined felt like razor blades cutting across my skin. I pulled off my gloves when we got in the shack, grabbed at my phone pocket, only to realize that the zipper was down. My mind was racing as to where it went and I said, “Crap… my phone musta fell out!”

We grabbed our packs off of our backs and started eating and drinking our snacks. I walked over to the light switch only to find the bulb was burnt out. I started to get worried and walked over to the heater. I hit the on switch… nothing happened. I said, “Well guess we don’t get any heat well we wait out this storm.”

After sitting for a bit and discussing our options we decided that the best way to handle it would be to try to make our way back to town. We got our gear back on and walked out to our snowmobiles. We tried to start our sleds but they were flooded. I didn’t think much of it because that was a common occurrence. We popped the hoods and then it hit me… we didn’t have any spare spark plugs.

The only solution we could think of would be to let the snowmobile sit for a bit and then try again. We went back inside and I could feel my body start to cool down. Tiredness set in. I could see Christian’s eyelids looked like they weighed twenty-five tons. He said in a weakened voice,” Devon, do you think we’ll make it? Do you think I’ll ever see my family again?”

Just then it struck me… We may not make it out alive. I replied in the most confident voice that I could muster up,” Yeah buddy, we’re gonna make it.” In the depths of my soul I knew we had to make it. I knew that this wasn’t how my life would end.
From past knowledge we knew that we had to try to stay warm in any way possible. I’m not proud to say it but at one point we undressed, cuddled up, and covered ourselves with some raggedy blankets that were in the shack. I told him that we should try going out to start the snowmobile again. This was our last hope. Our lives rested on two machines. Slowly and reluctantly we went out into the blistering cold and wind. We walked to snowmobiles which already had about a three foot drift around both of them. I pushed the throttle a couple times and then it came down to the pull of the rope. Poof! It had fired but it didn’t start. This little spark was enough to restore full energy into our systems. So we yanked the rope. It had started, but its life sputtered out. We knew that if we couldn’t start the snowmobile we more than likely wouldn’t make it, and even if we did it would be a long shot to get back home in this storm. Finally we put all our energy into one last pull and the engine spat once and then roared to life.
At that moment Christian and I shared one of the biggest hugs of our life. We suited up hopped on and then it was time to make the treacherous life-threatening ride home. The snowmobiles were flying 100 mph plus all the way home. I knew that Christian was in terrible condition so I didn’t even bother going home I drove straight to the ER with Chris following close behind. As we arrived at the emergency room he was a pale almost purple color and I couldn’t stand to look at him. I knew that this was my fault, that I was the reason he was out riding. I put him on my shoulders and ran in. The medical team wasted no time responding and they go to work trying to warm him up. All I could do is sit patiently in the waiting room. It felt like I was in a dream that none of this could be true until the doctor walked out with tears in his eyes. He said with a strained, weak sounding voice, “Young man, I can’t tell you how sorry I am… We just couldn’t save him; he wouldn’t warm up, but before he passed he told us that he wanted you to know… that quote you’re the reason I’m dying, it’s your fault. I hate you.”

The End

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